Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, has sued the Daily Sun Newspapers for N1 billion over an alleged defamatory story the media organisation wrote against him.
Lamorde instituted the case at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja through Festus Keyamo, his counsel.
According to the statement of claim filed by Keyamo, the plaintiff is claiming the sum of N1 billion “being damages for the words published of and concerning the plaintiff which are libelous by direct reference and innuendoes contained at the front page and page 6 of the Daily Sun of 8th October, 2015 titled ‘N1TRN LOOTED FUNDS: LAMORDE, EFCC BOSS, IN SOUP’ and further elaborated upon at page 6 of the said publication.”
The plaintiff also demands a retraction of the story and an unreserved apology by the defendant for the publication to be published with the same bold print and on the same front page as the headline complained of.
The plaintiff is further seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the newspaper organisation, agents, privies or servants from further “publishing any libelous, injurious or defamatory words against the plaintiff.”
Lamorde, a Commissioner of Police, denied that he was being investigated as claimed by the newspaper story, insisting further that the story was false.
The story was that Lamorde was “being investigated over allegations of diversion of over N1 trillion from the sale of confiscated properties belonging to convicted public officials including former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha and former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, among many others.”
The story further said the Presidency’s searchlight had actually been on the EFCC following complaints and reports that EFCC operatives were notoriously letting some financial crimes suspects off the hook rather than prosecuting them and that the decision to investigate Lamorde followed a petition by George Uboh, Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, a security firm, who had appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on 23 August.
The statement of claim said with the story, the plaintiff had been regarded as a fraudulent and corrupt civil servant who engages in diversion of monies belonging to the government and encourages his Operatives to collect bribes from suspects or that he is a hypocrite whose fraudulent activities date back to 2003 when he was Director of Operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Lamorde said he had been seriously injured in his character, credit, reputation and integrity and had been brought to public scandal, odium and contempt and had suffered damage by the publication, adding that he received numerous telephone calls from professional colleagues, international donor agencies, multinational organisations, relations, friends and religious leaders expressing their utmost disgust and contempt at his alleged disgraceful, unpatriotic and sacrilegious conduct after the story was published.
“The allegations in the publication are false and untrue. The defendants did not conduct any investigation into the truth of the allegations before publishing them.
“The defendant did not offer the plaintiff any opportunity to respond to the allegations before publishing them.
“By publishing the allegations in a sensational screaming headline, the defendant evinced the intention to malign the plaintiff and drag his reputation in the mud,” the statement of claim said.